Nutrient Removal by Tidal Fresh and Oligohaline Marshes in a Chesapeake Bay Tributary
Greene, Sarah E
Boynton, Walter R
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Located at the interface between estuaries and surrounding uplands, tidal marshes are in position to receive and transform material from both adjacent systems. Of particular importance in eutrophic estuarine systems, tidal marshes permanently remove nutrients via two mechanisms - denitrification and long-term burial. Denitrification was measured (monthly) in two marshes in a Chesapeake Bay tributary for 7 months, using the MIMS technique. Burial of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) was measured using 210Pb techniques. Strong spatial and temporal patterns emerged, and there was a Michaelis-Menten type response in denitrification rates to experimentally elevated nitrate levels. Denitrification rates measured may account for removal of 22% of N inputs to the upper estuary on an annual basis. Burial rates could account for 30% of N inputs and 60% of P inputs. Based on the cost of nutrient control technologies, Patuxent marsh nutrient removal may be valued at $10 to 30 million yr-1.